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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: writer wednesday, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Writer Wednesday: The Common Thread


A while back, Beth Fred and I were talking about mission statements and the common theme in the books we write. Now, you all know I write across genres and age levels, so you can imagine my reaction when Beth said there must be a common theme in all my books.

Um… Yeah, that was me. I've always said I'm not one to write to trends. I write the stories I feel I need to tell. And that's led me to having a pen name for romance while I write speculative fiction under my own name. But after a while, I realized Beth was right. There IS a common theme in all my books. It's self-discovery.

In my Touch of Death series, Jodi finds out she's a special kind of necromancer descended from the Gorgon Medusa. She struggles with what this means for her and how she'll have to adapt her life now that she's poisonous to humans.

In The Monster Within books, Sam dies of cancer at seventeen and is brought back from the dead as a monster who has to kill to survive. She struggles to figure out where she fits into the world and whether or not she's willing to kill others in order to live.

In Perfect For You (Ashelyn Drake title), Meg is trying to find herself again after having her heart broken in a very public and humiliating way. As much as it's about her finding the right guy, it's about her finding herself.

In A Lion's Song (my most recent picture book), Amara is trying to figure out her place in the pride when she's the only lion who can't roar.

I could keep going with all my books, but I think you can see the common thread. All my MCs are struggling to figure out who they are in this world and what that means for them. So I do have a common theme after all, even if I didn't know I did at the time I wrote these books.

What common theme pops up in your work?

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2. Writer Wednesday: Who Am I?


Did my post title confuse you? It confused me a little too if I'm being honest. And here's why. My agent, the very talented and uber intelligent Sarah Negovetich, recently posted about author bios, and I had to smack myself in the forehead after reading her post. Why? Because I did every one of the things she cautions authors NOT to do. ;) Oops! If you haven't read her post, check it out here. It's definitely worth your time.

I realized I had to change my bio because one thing I really pride myself on is being me. I embarrass myself all the time because I refuse to hide who I really am. Yet my bio was doing just that. It was stuffy and boring. My motto is, and has always been, "If you're not weird, you're boring." So why was my author bio boring?

Here's my old bio so you can see for yourself:
Kelly Hashway grew up reading R.L. Stein’s Fear Street novels and writing stories of her own, so it was no surprise to her family when she majored in English and later obtained a masters degree in English Secondary Education from East Stroudsburg University. After teaching middle school language arts for seven years, Hashway went back to school and focused specifically on writing. She is now the author of three young adult series, one middle grade series, and several picture books. She also writes contemporary romance under the pen name Ashelyn Drake. When she isn’t writing, Hashway works as a freelance editor for small presses as well as for her own list of clients. In her spare time, she enjoys running, traveling, and volunteering with the PTO. Hashway currently resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, daughter, and two pets. Hashway is represented by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary Agency. 

It's over, so feel free to stretch and wake yourself up again. Yawnfest, right? So, I'm trying to get my bio to convey who I really am, and while I'm not quite happy with it yet, I think it's getting there. So, I'm going to share it with you today so you can tell me what you think.

Here we go:
Kelly Hashway fully admits to being one of the most accident-prone people on the planet, but that didn’t stop her from jumping out of an airplane at ten thousand feet one Halloween. Maybe it was growing up reading R.L. Stine’s Fear Street books that instilled a love of all things scary and a desire to live in a world filled with supernatural creatures, but she spends her days writing speculative fiction for young adults and middle graders. Kelly’s also a sucker for first love, which is why she writes YA and NA romance under the pen name Ashelyn Drake. When she’s not writing, Kelly works as an editor, and also as Mom, which she believes is a job title that deserves to be capitalized. She is represented by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary Agency.

For those of you who have known me for a while, what do you think? Is it more me? Would you change anything, add anything? I'm all ears. :)

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3. Writer Wednesday: Dos and Don'ts of Author Events

Last Saturday I attended a signing event, and I saw some things that really bothered me as an author. Several of the authors in attendance left early due to poor sales. Now it was a gorgeous Saturday with sunny skies and temperatures in the 80s. Plus we were competing with Comic Con being held in this area for the first time ever. So yes, attendance at the event wasn't great. However, I don't blame that on why these authors weren't selling. I saw some things I want to warn you all against.
  • Lack of displays  You don't have to be Martha Stewart to make your table of books look nice. But I saw authors literally throw copies of books on the uncovered fold-out tables. I'm talking not even in a pile. Just tossed. Others stacked their books and kept nothing but the side of the white pages facing the people walking into the room. The problem with this is it looks like the author just doesn't care. If you don't have a book stand, you can still prop a book up in front of the stack so people have something to look at other than a spine or white edges. And you can purchase a cheap table cloth to cover the ugly folding table. Mine cost me $1.99. I also like to print out the cover of my upcoming or newest release and display it as a poster or in a picture frame. It's simple, inexpensive, and looks nice. 
  • Not being accessible or open to interaction  Some authors brought their laptops and worked. Now, I get that people are busy. I definitely am too, but nothing says "Don't bother me" like hiding behind a computer or even your phone. You should want to interact with readers and engage them in conversation. Closing yourself off from them isn't going to make you any sales or potential fans.
  • Hiding behind a table  I'm short, so sitting behind a table means I get lost behind my displays. But even if that wasn't the case, I wouldn't sit behind a table. I stand (unless I'm signing a book—I sit then because I can't write legibly while standing). And I'm either on the side of my table or in front of it. Why? Because I want to talk to people as they pass by. I want to be someone that people see as friendly and approachable. And in a crowded room with other people talking, it's too difficult to talk across a table.
Now I'm not claiming to be an expert by any means, but even with low attendance, I sold well at this event. And even if I didn't, I wouldn't have left early because I believe if you commit to an event, you see it through. Yeah, there will be times when you only sell a few copies or even none. But we are professionals, and professionals don't leave when things don't go their way.

So please, if you are going to an event, go with the right attitude. If you show that you want to be there and engage in conversations with others, you'll have a lot more success as far as reaching potential readers and connecting with other authors.

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4. Writer Wednesday: The Dreaded M-Word

No, I'm not talking about money—although I'll gladly take some if you're offering. ;) I'm talking about marketing. I'm not one of those authors who loves to market. It's actually my least favorite part of being an author. I'd much rather write more books, which is why I have a backlog of manuscripts in various stages of revision. (Don't tell my agent, who is already handling plenty for me at the moment. I don't want to scare her away.)

Recently I realized I need to step up my marketing game. Yes, even though I don't really enjoy it. Sure, I love in-person events. Give me plenty of those! But the other marketing stuff…not so much. So I promised myself to do at least one thing a day to market my work. And you know what? I've found that one thing usually leads to another and sometimes another. Yes, I've been averaging about three marketing efforts a day. Here comes the really surprising part. The more I market, the more I enjoy marketing.

I know! It's crazy! But here's the thing. I marketed my free book Campus Crush, and I saw results. That's motivating. So now I'm stepping up my game with my other titles and hoping that I'll get results for those too. The tricky thing is that what works as far as marketing one book may not work for the next, so I'm constantly trying new things and keeping track of what works and what doesn't.

How about you? Do you force yourself to market even when you don't feel like it?

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5. Writer Wednesday: Write the Book

Okay, so it's no secret that I'm a bit of a dork. ;) So every time I hear Taylor Swift's "Shake it Off" I sing the words a little differently. I'm not going to sing for you all because I don't want you to run off screaming. Instead, I'm going to share my version of the song, which I call "Write the Book." Enjoy!

"Write the Book"

I write way too much, got stories in my brain

That's what people say mmm, that's what people say mm
m
I release too many books, but I can't make 'em sell

At least that's what people say mmm, that's what people say mmm

But I keep writing, can't stop, won't stop typing

It's like I got this story in my mind saying it's gonna be alright

'Cause the readers gonna read, read, read, read, read

And the bloggers gonna
 blog, blog, blog, blog, blog
Baby, I'm just gonna write, write, write, write, write
write the book, write the book

Reviewers gonna rate, rate, rate, rate, rate

And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate

Baby, I'm just gonna write, write, write, write, write

write the book, write the book

I never miss a word, I'm lightning on the keys

And that's what they don't see mmm, that's what they don't see mmm 

I'm writing on my own (writing on my own), make the words up as I go (words up as I go)

And that's what they don't know mmm, that's what they don't know mmm

But I keep writing, can't stop, won't stop typing

It's like I got this story in my mind saying it's gonna be alright

'Cause the readers gonna read, read, read, read, read

And the bloggers gonna 
blog, blog, blog, blog, blog
Baby, I'm just gonna write, write, write, write, write

write the book, write the book

Reviewers gonna rate, rate, rate, rate, rate

And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate

Baby, I'm just gonna write, write, write, write, write

write the book, write the book

write the book, write the book

I, I write the book, write the book

I, I, write the book, write the book

I, I write the book, write the book

Hey, hey, hey, just think while you've been getting down and out about the pirates and dirty, dirty cheats in the biz you could have been getting down to this sick book

My ex-fan brought his new book friend

She's like "oh my God," but I'm just gonna write it

And to the M.C. over there with the hella good hair

Won't you come on over, baby, we can write, write, write

'Cause the readers gonna read, read, read, read, read

And the bloggers gonna blog, blog, blog, blog, blog

Baby, I'm just gonna write, write, write, write, write

write the book, write the book

Reviewers gonna rate, rate, rate, rate, rate

And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate

Baby, I'm just gonna write, write, write, write, write

write the book, write the book

write the book, write the book

I, I write the book, write the book
I, I write the book, write the book

I, I write the book, write the book

write the book, write the book

I, I write the book, write the book
I’ve got to

I, I write the book, write the book

I, I write the book, write the book

And for anyone who doesn't know Taylor's song, here's the video:
I dare you all to sing along but with my version. ;)

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6. Writer Wednesday: Marketing Highs and Lows

Last week on my Monday Mishmash I mentioned that I've been committing to doing at least one marketing effort per day. I also mentioned that I've seen some positive results from this. So I thought today I'd share a little more about what I'm doing.

I tried something new, which is to use sites to advertise my books. I'm not one to spend a lot of money on advertising though, so I found some sites that are free and others that are under $10. My results were mixed. Some of the promo days wants really well, ranking my book in the 200s on Amazon. One book was ranked there twice in the span of a few weeks and is still going strong. This book is free though. Now you may be thinking, Kelly, why would you pay to advertise a free book? Well, here's why. When you put a book out for free, you're doing it to allow readers to sample your work and hopefully become fans. If you succeed, you'll get readers who then go buy your other books. When you market a free book, you're reaching more potential readers. Will I make that money I spent back with my free book? No. But I hopefully will with the next book in the series.

Now I mentioned mixed results. This happened when I promoted a book that wasn't free. I saw no change in sales. None. Same tactic, different book, very different results. Does that mean I'll never try it again with a paid book? No. I think everything with marketing is hit or miss. It could have been the day of the week, the price of the book, the fact that this followed another promotion that was free and readers didn't have enough time to read my previous book they downloaded, etc. There are so many factors that could have contributed to it.

So what does all this mean? I think the promotions helped get my name out there. Right now it's too soon to tell how many new fans I was able to hook, but hopefully that will become apparent soon. In the meantime, I'll continue with my one marketing effort a day.

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7. Writer Wednesday: Text-to-Speech Proofreading


Two weeks ago I mentioned that you should always read your book aloud during revisions because it allows you to hear errors. Well, today I want to take that a step further, and here's why. It's already been proven that the human brain can read misspelled words as long as the first and last letter are in the correct places. Well, think about this. You've read your own book countless times and know the story so well, that your brain is also filling in missing words. So what do you do?

Some people hire editors. If you are self-publishing, I highly recommend this. And not just because I am an editor. You are too close to your manuscript to find errors. Your brain will fill in what your fingers either didn't type or typed incorrectly. So having an editor is a must for self-publishing. (If you aren't self-publishing, get a few beta readers and/or CPs.) However…editors are human too. Yes, we do our best to make your work as error free as possible, but our brains work like yours. I read every book I edit twice. On the second time through, I know your story. That means my brain may fill in gaps (missing words or letters) just like yours will. Think about how many published books (even by the big five) still have an error or two in them. This is why.

What now? Ereaders have a cool feature that can help. It's the text-to-speech function. Over the past few weeks, this has become my favorite final pass on manuscripts. I send the Word document to my Kindle. (Handy tip: If you email the document to your Kindle with the word "Convert" in the subject line—don't actually use quotes, though—your Kindle will convert the document's formatting to make it look nice on your Kindle.) Then I let my Kindle read the book to me while I'm looking at it on the Kindle and following along. I have the Word document open on my laptop at the same time, so that when I hear a mistake, I can pause my Kindle and fix the error on my document.

While proofing the ARC of Looking For Love, my Kindle let me know I misspelled Harvard. Hearing Havard jumped right out at my ears, but not my eyes or my proofreader's eyes. So this is my new favorite proofreading method.

Have you used the text-to-speech feature to help you proofread?

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8. Writer Wednesday: Wattpad

2015 is the year of branching out for me. I'm trying new ways to reach readers. My latest venture is with Wattpad. I wasn't very familiar with this platform, but I know a lot of readers are there grabbing free samples of books. So I thought why not?

I joined and got permission from the very awesome people at Spencer Hill Press to upload my two FREE Touch of Death series companions, which are also available on the SHP website. 

The first is Curse of Death, which is the myth behind the series. It shows why I love Medusa and feel she was wrongfully cursed. 
The second is Kiss of Death, which is a prequel novella told from Alex's POV, because I just love Alex and his story needed to be told pre-Jodi.

So what does this mean? I'm not entirely sure yet, but I'm hoping to reach new readers and introduce them to my work. I'll keep you posted on how it's going. In the meantime, feel free to follow me on Wattpad here and to read my free stories.

Are you on Wattpad? Feel free to leave your link in the comments so I can follow you. If you aren't, what do you think of a site that allows you to sample an author's work?

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9. Writer Wednesday: The Value of Free

Recently I've come across quite a few debates about authors offering books for free. Some authors claim it's killing the book industry because readers won't pay for books when they can get so many for free. So basically, if you're book isn't available for free, readers will pass you by. Others argue that free books are a great way to get your work in the hands of readers who will hopefully love your writing and then buy your other books.

Until last week, I was firmly in the latter group. I have some titles that are perma free. My hope is that people will download those and then look to see what other books I have available for purchase. Does that actually happen? Sometimes. And other times I get emails from readers asking where they can get my other books for free. Now, I say my opinion changed last week and here's why. I got an email through Goodreads from someone I didn't know. They'd read one of my reviews and asked if I knew where to get the book for free. My initial reaction was to scream. This author is a friend of mine. Writing is her job. So, yeah, I got upset. Every day people spend countless dollars at Starbucks (Nothing wrong if that's you. I'm a huge coffee drinker.) for a coffee that will be gone in a matter of minutes. But they won't purchase a book that will entertain them for hours, even days—or in the event that they love it, over and over again for many years to come. That bothers me.

Now I get that money can be tight. I've been there. But here's what I did when I was in that situation. I went to the library. If I wanted to read a book that wasn't on the shelves, I put in a request for it. And guess what? The library will most likely purchase the book for you and others to read. It's a win for everyone.

So where do I stand on free books? I'm glad I have some titles available for free. I have no plans to change that. But if a book you want to read isn't free, please either purchase it or request it from your library. Authors work really hard, and everyone deserves to be paid for their hard work.

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10. Writer Wednesday: What Revision Really Looks Like

I've come to the conclusion that I like to embarrass myself. Today I'm sharing a video of what revision really looks like…if you're me. Just an FYI, my daughter watched this and said, "You're putting that on YouTube?" while giving me a "Mom, you're so embarrassing" look. Then she must have had a change of heart because she laughed and said, "Let me know when it's up. I want to watch it again and again so I can laugh at you." She's such a confidence booster!

So, without further ado, here is what revision really looks like when you're me. While the video is short, just envision this repeating on an endless loop until I finish revising a book. ;)



Did this seem familiar to you? What does your revision process look like?

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11. Writer Wednesday: I'd Rather Buy a Book

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about things people buy on a daily/weekly basis that cost more than a book, and it kind of depressed me. Not that I want to depress you too, but check out this quick list. (This could have gotten really long, but I think you get my point.)

Coffee (lattes, cappuccino, etc.) ~ I make my own coffee, so I save on this daily expense.

Greeting Cards ~ Is anyone else appalled at how expensive these things are? I mean it's like a total of 20-40 words and you're charging me $5! My book is over 80K and it's not that expensive (in ebook format).

Vending Machine Snacks/Drinks ~ These tiny packages are more expensive than their larger counterparts you can buy in a food store.

Register Items ~ You know, those overpriced candy bars and packs of gum they have at the registers in stores. You could buy an entire bag of candy for the price of the one bar, but this is RIGHT HERE! Same with the gum.

Dollar Bin Specials ~ Okay, maybe this isn't a daily or weekly thing for everyone, but you know what I'm talking about. You walk into Target and those dreaded dollar bins stare you in the face. Of course there's something you HAVE to have, right? ;)

Yet all these things are items people purchase without a second thought. So why then, is it so hard to get people to buy a book priced anywhere from $.99-$9.99? Books are hours or days (depending on your reading time/pace) of entertainment. None of these items do the same. And all of the items above are discarded, when a book can be reread or passed on to another person.

Now, if you enjoy spending money on the things I listed above, that's your prerogative, but personally, I'd rather buy a book.

How about you?

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12. Writer Wednesday: Barnes and Noble vs. Amazon

Lately I've been wondering what drives people to Barnes and Noble as opposed to Amazon or vice versa. They both have books in paperback and ebook formats, so what prompts someone to pick one over the other?

I'm an Amazon girl, but oddly enough I used to purchase all my books through Barnes and Noble. I don't know why I changed. It sort of happened one day without me knowing it. But let me share something with you from an author's perspective—something that has me admittedly perplexed.

I released an Ashelyn Drake title (Looking For Love) this month. It's a new adult romance, and I mention the genre for a reason. I've heard (not that I know if this is true or not) that romance sells better on B&N than Amazon. Well, for this book, that's true. My B&N ranking continues to get better every day, while my Amazon ranking is going in the opposite direction. Checking my sales numbers, I see a drastic different between the two sites. Now here's why I'm baffled. I don't use the B&N link to promote. I always use the Amazon link. Sure I have the B&N link on my website, but I don't actively promote it.

That's not the only reason I'm confused. You see the other Campus Crush novellas, before they were packaged as one book—Campus Crush, all sold better on Amazon. Hmm… So what is making this book different? I have a clue!

So I'm asking you all, which site do you gravitate toward—Amazon or B&N—and why?

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13. Writer Wednesday: Nothing Is One Size Fits All


Something I've discovered in this industry is that there is no such thing as one size fits all. What works while drafting one book, may not work for another. I've written some books completely out of order and had to piece them together. Others I've written linearly. The same goes for revision. Some books make me want to pull my hair out during revisions because I have to track so many things and keep lists to make sure there aren't inconsistencies anywhere. Other books go so smoothly during revisions that I get a little worried because I feel it should have been more difficult.

And even after the writing and revising stage, things still aren't one size fits all. What works for one author while promoting a new book may not work for another. I'm talking about the exact same efforts yielding very different results. So how do we know what to do? Honestly, I think it's all trial and error. We have to try new things and old things to see what will work for that particular book. Time consuming? Absolutely! Frustrating at times? Absolutely! Necessary? Absolutely! Well, unless you don't care if your books sell or not, but let's be honest. We ALL care. ;)

Have you ever experienced very different results from the same strategies?

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14. Writer Wednesday: Writers and Taxes

Happy Tax Day! 

I could hear most of you groaning. Taxes aren't exactly fun for a writer. We don't get the same taxes taken out of our pay, which means we get killed at tax time. I've seen some horror stories from well-known and successful writers who owe thousands at tax time. I don't envy them, but at the same time I do.

Confused? Really the less you make and the more you can write off as losses, the better as far as tax season goes. Of course that means you didn't have the best year. On the other hand, if you sold a ton of books and made great money, you're going to have to give some of that back come April 15. I pay quarterly, and I usually wind up overpaying, which means I get some money back at the end of the year, but it's nothing to celebrate.

So what's a writer to do? As always, write. At least that's my opinion. What do you think about the way writers are taxed. Is there a better system?

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15. Writer Wednesday: Thanking Those Who Inspire

As writers we talk all the time about the books and authors who have inspired us. And while I have my list of inspirational authors, there is someone on my list who isn't an author. He was my sophomore-year English teacher in high school. His name was Mr. McKay. He was the most enthusiastic and caring teacher I've ever had, and to be honest I can't even imagine a better teacher. He made me love reading and writing even more, and he solidified my decision to become a teacher. I wanted to inspire others the way he inspired me.

Why am I bringing up Mr. McKay today? Well, on Monday I visited two schools in my hometown. While I was at my first visit the teachers asked me when I graduated and if I knew Mr. McKay. My answer was, "He was favorite teacher!" Then they told me he is now Dr. McKay, principal of Lounsberry Hollow Middle School where my next visit was scheduled. I couldn't have been more excited. I had to tell him just how much he influenced me.

So that afternoon, I went to Lounsberry and I was overcome with emotion. First, there was a gorgeous banner and tons of signs made for me.




It was the nicest welcome ever, and I was so touched that the students and staff went through all that trouble just for me.

And then Dr. McKay walked into the library. My smile couldn't have been wider. He looked the same, and he remembered me. That made my day. We talked for a while, and not only did he give me a very touching introduction when the students arrived, but he also stayed for the entire hour and a half presentation and then stayed after to talk to me. Because he cares that much. Hearing him say he was proud of me was beyond words. I almost teared up several times, and I'm tearing up now as I type this. I told him face-to-face just how much he influenced me and that he is by far the best teacher I've ever had. I also gave him a signed copy of Touch of Death because he really wanted to read that one with his father/son book club, which made me insanely happy. And I may have written him a thank you card as well and gushed about his brilliance some more.

Being able to say "thank you" and tell Dr. McKay that I wouldn't be who I am today if not for his influence was an incredible experience. So if there's someone who had a big impact on you like this, please tell them, because we need more Dr. McKays in this world.
Me with Dr. McKay

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16. Writer Wednesday: Setting Up Author Events

Today's post topic came from Katie Clark, who posted this on last week's Monday Mishmash:

Can you do a post talking about how you go about arranging those author events? Do you do the legwork, or is it done for you? What goes into it? What kind of relationships do you develop beforehand, or do you cold contact stores? How do you find out about the local events and festivals where you set up a booth?

Okay, there are quite a few things you can do to set up author events. First, make sure you get your press release into papers. I get requests for school visits because teachers see my press releases in the newspaper and contact me. However, there is nothing wrong with contacting the librarian at a school and letting him/her know you are an author and you're available to come speak to the students. I also let them know that I don't charge for visits to local schools. It's hard for schools to turn down a free opportunity like this.

As for local festivals or events where I can have a booth, I search the library website as well as the local paper. Once you get on a list, the organizers contact you the following year to return. So really the legwork is only necessary for that initial foot in the door. Also, local organizations attend each other's events. I've booked other events through them. For instance, I do a local book expo every year at the library. At that event, I met the state representative, who asked me to attend a local event she runs every year. Now I have two local events that I participate in each year. Not bad.

As for bookstores, I personally go into the bookstores with my information in hand. You need to speak with a manager, who will most likely look up your book immediately to see if it's in the system and can be ordered. From there, setting up the signing is easy, and the store usually works with you to promote the event, which is great. I've also found that teaming up with other authors can get you in more stores. That's how my book tour this fall was set up. I contacted stores in my area, and the other authors contacted stores in their areas. Before we knew it, we'd booked several signings. 

So that's my answer, Katie. I do a lot of legwork, but it's time well spent.

Does anyone else have a question they'd like me to answer in a Writer Wednesday post? If so, leave your question in the comments and I'll get your answer scheduled.

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17. Writer Wednesday: Should You Query New Agencies?




Today's post topic came by request last week. Thank you, Fi, for a great question that I think many people probably have. Here's the question:

With regard to literary agents, would you approach a newly founded agency (with lots of industry experience) or hang off and see how they progress?

Okay, well I'm not sure I have the answer to this one because it's really a personal decision, but I'm going to give you some pros and cons on signing with a new agency to help you make a decision.

Pros:

  • More individualized attention:  New agents and new agencies have smaller client lists, which means that if you sign with them, you will get a lot of individualized attention. That means quicker response times and an overall feeling of being special. :)
  • Hardworking:  I know writers who prefer newer agents and agencies because they work so hard for their authors. Why? The new agent/agencies have something to prove. They are trying to make a name for themselves. That means they are going to do their absolute best on your behalf. (I want to make it known that ALL agents/agencies should do this for you, though.)

Cons:
  • No reputation to stand on:  New agencies don't have a reputation to stand on when it comes to submitting your work to editors. An editor may not recognize the agency name at all, instead of seeing a well-known agency they've worked with before and who knows the publishing house's tastes.
  • You might be the guinea pig:  There's a learning curve in this industry, so if you sign on with a new agent or agency, you have to understand that they are new to this and might not have a lot of experience negotiating contracts. However, some new agencies are started by very well-known and experienced agents. I don't consider them to be in this category.
I didn't set out to make an even number of pros and cons, but I think it goes to show that you have to judge each agent individually. Follow them online. See what kind of an agent he/she is. Are they editorial? Do they have relationships with editors at houses you'd like to be with? (You can see this easily on Twitter and Facebook.) Is the agent someone who represents him/herself in a way that you are comfortable with, because if you sign with that agent he/she will be representing you, too.

My advice to anyone querying is only query someone you could see yourself saying "yes" to if you are offered representation. If you're on the fence, wait. See what that agent does as far as sales. If you query someone you don't have faith in, you're really just waisting your time and the agent's. So query selectively. Finding an agent is like finding the person you want to marry. Sure, people divorce and find new agents all the time, but wouldn't it be great to have a long and successful career with someone who will really champion your books?

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18. Writer Wednesday: Happy Holidays and Free & Low-Priced Books!

This isn't your typical Writer Wednesday post because tomorrow is Christmas! To celebrate the holiday season I want to help you fill up that new ereader you asked for or that you purchased for someone else. We all know that can get expensive, so here are my books that are either FREE or very low in price. Enjoy!


FREE Books:

Kiss of Death: Young Adult Paranormal Prequel Novella to the Touch of Death Series. This book is told from Alex's POV.


The only life Alex Montgomery knows is raising the dead and having zombie servants, normal stuff for an Ophi. Alex is a necromancer descended from Medusa—or at least he will be once he comes into his powers. So far his life is training to use abilities he doesn't yet possess, which gets him beaten up by zombies on more than one occasion. And his parents Victoria and Troy won't tolerate anything less than perfection from Alex. He has a lot to live up to, and they remind him of it every day. So when an innocent birthday kiss turns deadly, Alex has to work twice as hard to master his Ophi abilities. He isn't the Chosen One, but he's still a Montgomery, which means he's expected to run the Ophi school one day. With a new group of students coming to the school, Alex needs to learn fast because he's about to be sent on the biggest mission of his life.

Want to know Alex's story and what he was like before he met Jodi? Now you can. Download it FREE here.


Curse of Death: Young Adult Paranormal Prequel Short Story to the Touch of Death Series.


When Medusa is caught between the god she serves and the god she loves, there can only be one outcome.

Download it FREE here.












The Imaginary Friend: Lower Middle Grade Two-Part Short Story

Samantha and Tracy have been best friends since kindergarten, but now that Tracy has gotten over her shyness and made new friends, Samantha is feeling left out. This is nothing compared to how she feels when a strange girl named Jessica tells Samantha that she’s actually an imaginary friend. Tracy has outgrown Samantha, and it’s time for Samantha to help another child who needs her. But will Samantha be able to move on and fulfill her duty as an imaginary friend?

Download it FREE on Amazon or B&N.


Campus Crush: New Adult Contemporary Romance Novel consisting of four novellas (written under my pen name Ashelyn Drake)
The co-eds of Timberland College know a little romance is good for the soul. 

Follow four couples as they try to find love in the Campus Crush Series boxset, including Nothing to Tell, Romancing the R.A., Behind Closed Doors, and Rushing Into Love. 

When you're looking for love, you have to be willing to break the rules. 

This novel includes all four novellas in the Campus Crush series: 
Nothing To Tell
Romancing the R.A.
Behind Closed Doors
Rushing Into Love

Download it for FREE on Amazon or B&N.

LOW-PRICED Books:

Touch of Death (Touch of Death series #1): YA paranormal
Jodi Marshall isn’t sure how she went from normal teenager to walking disaster. One minute she’s in her junior year of high school, spending time with her amazing boyfriend and her best friend. The next she’s being stalked by some guy no one seems to know. 


After the stranger, Alex, reveals himself, Jodi learns he’s not a normal teenager and neither is she. With a kiss that kills and a touch that brings the dead back to life, Jodi discovers she’s part of a branch of necromancers born under the 13th sign of the zodiac, Ophiuchus. A branch of necromancers that are descendents of Medusa. A branch of necromancers with poisoned blood writhing in their veins. 

Jodi’s deadly to the living and even more deadly to the deceased. She has to leave her old, normal life behind before she hurts the people she loves. As if that isn’t difficult enough, Jodi discovers she’s the chosen one who has to save the rest of her kind from perishing at the hands of Hades. If she can’t figure out how to control her power, history will repeat itself, and her race will become extinct.

Only $1.99 on Amazon or B&N.


The Monster Within: YA paranormal
The moment seventeen-year-old Samantha Thompson crawls out of her grave, her second chance at life begins. She died of cancer with her long-time boyfriend, Ethan, by her side—a completely unfair shot at life. But Ethan found a way to bring her back, like he promised he would. Only Sam came back wrong.

She's now a monster that drains others' lives to survive. And after she kills, she’s tortured by visions—glimpses into her victims would-have-been futures had she not killed them. Barely able to live with herself and trying to make things right, Sam ends up a pawn in a vicious game of payback within the local coven of witches.

But when the game reveals what Ethan had to do to save Sam, she must make a choice that will change all their lives forever.

Only $3.99 on Amazon or B&N.


Perfect For You: YA contemporary romance written as Ashelyn Drake
Seventeen-year-old Meg Flannigan isn’t very self-confident, but what girl would be after her sophomore-year boyfriend dumped her by making out with another girl in front of her locker? 

Now a senior, Meg catches the eye of not one, but two gorgeous guys at school. Sounds good, right? What girl wouldn't want to be in Meg's shoes? One cute boy happens to be her boyfriend, and the other? Well, he wants to be. And Meg? She's torn between Ash, the boy she's been with for nearly five months, and Noah who is pretty irresistible. 

But Meg is playing with fire. Pitting two boys against one another, even if she doesn't intend to, could end badly if she isn't careful. 

Only $2.99 on Amazon or B&N.


Into the Fire: YA paranormal romance written as Ashelyn Drake
Seventeen-year-old Cara Tillman’s life is a perfectly normal one until Logan Schmidt moves to Ashlan Falls. Cara is inexplicably drawn to him, but she’s not exactly complaining. Logan’s like no boy she’s ever met, and he brings out a side of Cara that she isn’t used to. As the two get closer, everything is nearly perfect, and Cara looks forward to the future.

But Cara isn’t a normal girl. She’s a member of a small group of people descended from the mythical phoenix bird, and her time is running out. Rebirth is nearing, which means she’ll forget her life up to this point—she’ll forget Logan and everything they mean to one another.. But that may be the least of Cara’s problems.

A phoenix hunter is on the loose, and he’s determined to put an end to the lives of people like Cara and her family, once and for all.

Only $3.49 on Amazon or B&N.


Happy Holidays!


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19. Writer Wednesday: Writing Space

Right now I'm in the process of cleaning out a room in my house that will become my office. Yes, I'm going to finally have an office. The renovations on my house are just about complete. We're still waiting on a few things, but we are moving my daughter's toys out of one room and moving my desk, bookshelf, and other office supplies in.

I don't have pictures yet since things are a mess at the moment. You know how whenever you do a project it looks like a bomb went off before you get everything settled? Well, that's pretty much my current state. But I'm enjoying the process because I'm going through my things and deciding where everything should go. This is going to be my space. The only downside is that my treadmill will share the room with me since we have no other place to put it, but it is mine, so I guess it's fair. Maybe jogging will inspire me when I need a little motivation, too. ;) And I'll finally get to frame the posters of my book covers my husband had made for me. Yay!

So while I figure out what my office will look like, I want to know what you're ideal writing space would be (or is, if you're lucky enough to have it already). Tell me in the comments.

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20. Writer Wednesday: Writer Rebel's Creed and Goals for 2015

I'm taking part in the Writer Rebel's Creed again this year, hosted/originated by Sheri Larsen. As part of the group, this is what I'm pledging to this year:
If you'd like to join, check out Sheri's blog and sign up.

In addition to the Rebel's Creed, here are my goals for 2015:
  1. Secret goal I can't reveal yet. Sorry! I know what it is though, and I'll share as soon as I can.
  2. Promote The Darkness Within (Sequel to The Monster Within). The book releases in June and I'm ready to show everyone why they should love Sam and Ethan.
  3. Write another Campus Crush book. Ashelyn Drake fans have asked for another story featuring Mike (from Nothing to Tell) so he can get his HEA. I want to give him just that. :)
  4. Write the final book in the Curse of the Granville Fortune Series. This goal is self-explanatory. ;)
  5. Build my street team (Kelly's Coven) by spoiling my fans with lots of great exclusive stuff. I'm talking about bonus content, exclusive giveaways, changes to be characters in my books, review copies, SWAG, one-on-one discussions with me, and lots more.
Okay, so goals are great, but wish lists are a lot of fun, too. I'm putting these separately because they aren't things I have total control over. Here is my wish list of things I'd LOVE to happen in 2015:
  1. Get one or two more book deals. That would be really nice. :)
  2. Make the USA and/or NYT best seller list. My ultimate dream!
  3. Going to BEA or another big convention. Spencer Hill Press won't be attending BEA this year, so I need a miracle to happen in order to go.
  4. A drama-free year. It's no secret 2014 was rough for me. I want no drama in 2015. Can someone please make that happen for me?
What are your goals and/or wishes for 2015?


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21. Writer Wednesday: Deadlines Vs. at Your Own Pace

I'm one for deadlines. Sure, I'll pull my hair out and wonder how I'll ever meet all my deadlines, but then my mom (who keeps me sane) tells me that I'll get it done because I always do. 

For me, the real problem is not having a deadline. If I don't know when I need to have a book drafted or revised by, I'm not as productive. And it's not by choice either. I find I'm just not as focused or as creative. I believe I've taught myself to be creative on command. It's a real thing. When I know I have to accomplish something, I'll do it. End of story. Tell me you'd like me to do something when I have time, and I'm lost. I need a deadline. This often means I create my own deadlines. And while I know I'm the one setting the deadline, I can still fool myself into believing it must be done. ;)

Are you like this? Do you need deadlines to motivate and push you toward your goals?

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22. Writer Wednesday: Writing Vs. Social Media

We all know that part of what we do as writers is interact on social media. We need to be available to our readers so they are aware of when our next book comes out or when we get a new contract and of course so they can get to know us as people and readers, too. I'm going to admit that lately, I've been so busy that I haven't been online much.

Yup. I've been a bad social media author. Here's why. Over the past month, my husband and daughter have been home a lot. A lot. I've always tried to balance my writing life and my personal life. So when my family is home, I like to spend time with them. Nothing unusual there, right? Right. So that means my time to actually work is cut down significantly. And that leads to me deciding what's more important—writing or being on social media.

I chose writing. I worked on a new novella and I revised two books. That's not to mention editing for my clients, too. So you see, something had to give. For me that something was social media, and I'm hoping you'll all forgive me for being quiet online. I'm hoping the promise of more books from me will make up for it.

Do you ever go social media quiet? Do you find you lose followers, or are they forgiving?

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23. Writer Wednesday: Revising Out Loud

I've been doing a lot of editing lately, both for clients and for my own books, so I thought I'd share a tip with you all today. I talk a lot about how I edit books backward in one of my reading passes, but something else that is just as important (maybe more important) is reading the book out loud.

I can't stress this enough. Yes, you will probably lose your voice if you revise too much in one sitting, but reading aloud allows you to identify so many weakness in your writing. Don't believe me? Ask people who have had their books made into audio versions if their readers (the person making the audio) identified errors. I bet they did. 

Here are just a few things you'll hear when you read your book aloud:

Repetition  Every manuscript I edit has repetition it in. Every single one. And in 
most cases it's unnecessary repetition that you don't want. (My editors get on my case for this too because seriously, everyone does it.) If you read your book aloud, the repetition pretty much slaps you in the face, and then you can get rid of it. You'll be thankful when the book reads more smoothly and the pace picks up, too.

Missing Words  Yes, you can hear missing words. You hear them because they aren't there. When we read in our heads, we don't always catch a missing "the" or "an," but you will when you read aloud.

Awkward Wording  You'll stumble over sentences that aren't quite right if you read them aloud. If you have to slow down or reread a sentence, something is wrong with your wording. Maybe it's a case of poor word choice or a phrase that doesn't quite read correctly. Either way, this is the time to fix it.

Contractions  I've had clients make words into contractions that have no right to be contractions. ;) It's awkward for the reader. In the same token, most kids don't speak without contractions, so if you're avoiding them completely, think again. Reading aloud will highlight areas that don't sound like real life speech.

Italics  Sometimes you have to make sure your intent with emphasis is clear. Italics will do that. So if you're reading a sentence and the emphasis could be placed on the wrong word, make life easier on your reader and add italics to the word or words you want emphasized.

I could probably keep going, but I think you get the point. It's worth the extra time it takes to read a manuscript aloud. 

Do you make reading aloud part of your revision process?


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24. Writer Wednesday: How to Use a Book Trailer


Today's topic came by request from Kai Strand. Kai wanted to know how to use a book trailer for marketing. Now this is just my opinion, but here's how I think you can use a trailer.
  • Host a trailer reveal  Get some bloggers on board to post your trailer on a specific day or week. This will drum up additional interest in your book and get the word out there between the cover reveal and release day.
  • Start a YouTube Channel  Tons of people are on YouTube, and trailers give you material to post to your channel. Why not be a part of this huge platform?
  • Post your trailer to your website, blog, Amazon author page, etc.  Just about every social media outlet online has a place to upload videos, so go nuts! Get that video up everywhere! Plus if you post to FB or Twitter, others can share your video, too.
  • Post a link or embed the video in your author newsletter  Newsletter subscribers love to get sneak peeks at what you're doing, so reward them with an exclusive first look at your trailer.
Now, do I think book trailers help sales? Not really. But they are fun to make, and they are another way to spread the word about your book, so why not utilize this method of getting your book out there?

Have any other ideas for how you can use a book trailer? Please share in the comments.

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25. Writer Wednesday: Taking Time to Say Thank You

I had a very different post planned for today, but that will have to wait until next week because this is too important for me not to post immediately. I have to say thank you. Thank you to everyone who stops by my blog each week. Thank you to everyone who reads my books. Thank you to everyone who promotes my work. Thank you to everyone I've met along my writing career.

Why am I so thankful today? Because yesterday this happened:
This can't happen without those people—without you. It's not a secret that my goal is to make the NYT bestseller list. Sometimes I get so caught up in that dream that I forget to stop and look at my journey so far. This is my third ribbon on Amazon. Now Stalked by Death, Touch of Death, and The Monster Within have all gotten ribbons (two golds and a bronze). Am I a NYT bestseller? No, but that's okay. I'll keep reaching for that goal, but in the meantime, I'm really happy with what I have accomplished. 

So thank you, because I couldn't be here without you. Without your encouragement and support. If I could wrap you all in a hug right now, I would. Since I can't, I'm sending virtual hugs and an invitation to call on me any time you need. I'm always here to support all of you as well.

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